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Netflix's worldwide success of Galder Gaztelu-Urrutia's film is great news for the Spanish industry

Business Evaluation. First Semester (I).

In a first semester in which the audiovisual sector, like the rest of the industries, has suffered the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Spanish film "The Platform" has stood out among the titles most demanded by the users of SVOD platforms around the world.

This production by Basque Films and Mr. Miyagi, sold by Latido Films, triumphed on the festival circuit before marking a milestone in the history of Spanish cinema broadcast on Netflix.

In its world premiere during the last edition in Toronto, within the Midnight Madness section, "The Platform" won the Audience Award. In Sitges, already in October, it won four awards, including Best Film.

After its launch on Netflix on March 20th, in the midst of the pandemic, its popularity did not cease to increase, remaining for a long time among the most viewed productions on the platform.

"'By the number of people who have been able to see it, 'The Platform' is the biggest success in Spanish cinema in years", says Antonio Saura, Latido's CEO. "Without having exact figures [Netflix does not usually share them], we believe that this is the most watched non-English language film in the history of the platform", he adds.

Opening of new markets

"The widespread use of SVOD platforms is the main factor behind the success of this feature film and Spanish content as a whole", explains Luis de Zubiaurre Wagner, international audience and content consultant.

"These new global operators make it possible for local productions to be accessible on all continents simultaneously, opening up a market that previously, with traditional distribution channels, was certainly limited.”

The film’s genre, science fiction thriller, has helped to attract a predominantly young audience, which is a majority consumer of SVOD content.

"Science fiction, fantasy and mystery are among the genres that work best on SVOD platforms, both in terms of feature films and series. It is also important to highlight the fact that the trend of series and films with a dystopian plot -as is also the case of ‘The Platform’- coincides with a world shaken by the great health, social and economic crisis generated by the COVID-19," says De Zubiaurre.

"Furthermore, this fantasy genre fits very well with the preferably young profile of the SVOD platforms, which provides in these contents a great advantage over an increasingly older generalist television."

Traditional distribution and SVOD

In the current market situation, sales agents are often at the crossroads between traditional distribution and SVOD platforms.

As a result of pre-commitment sales agreements with Netflix, "The Platform" has recently been released in Asian markets such as Hong Kong, distributed by Edko Films, and South Korea (Activers), with great acceptance considering the limitations in access to theaters by the public in the post-COVID era, and will soon be released in Japan.

On the other hand, David Victori's film "Cross the Line" was another Spanish title that transcended internationally during the first half of the year, opting for a more traditional distribution.

For this psychological thriller starring Mario Casas, the Catalan mini-major Filmax -the film's producer and distributor- has planned to market the film internationally on a territory-by-territory basis, which includes streaming the film in theaters.

In February, after a prolific market in Berlin, Filmax closed the sale of "Cross the Line" to Wild Bunch in France, Russian Report (CIS), Cai Chang (Taiwan), Dexin (ex-Yugoslavia), along with agreements with Movie Inspired (Italy) and Ascot Elite Entertainment Group (Germany).

The immediate arrival of the pandemic and the subsequent period of confinement triggered uncertainties. However, "the distance in time for the film's release in Spain - scheduled for October - contributed to buyers' peace of mind in keeping their commitments," explains Iván Díaz, Filmax's International Sales Director.

As a result of the huge demand for audiovisual content during the quarantine, Filmax also managed to seal several agreements for the sale of bookstore titles such as "The Machinist" or the "REC" franchise in territories such as the United Kingdom, Germany and Italy.

One of the great challenges for market players in recent months has been to adapt to a new virtual environment in which to do business.

With the Cannes Marché du Film online platform extending operations until August after its official celebration - from June 22-26 - creating a very positive business momentum, Spanish agents continue to maintain an interesting flow of sales.

"We miss the physical meeting of the on-site market, but the online format has come to stay", says Díaz.